Different Causes of CDH

I tend to use chronic daily headache and migraine interchangeably because my chronic migraines are thought to have transformed into daily headaches. I’m trying to stop doing this, though, because migraine is not the only instigator of CDH. In fact, the International Headache Society has identified 24 different causes for it.

American Family Physician published an article in December 2004 that describes these causes in the US and Europe. In 53% of cases, CDH begins from chronic tension-type headaches. Another 31% are chronic migraines that have transformed into daily headaches. In both type, the headaches gradually change from being distinct events to constant. Another common cause with a gradual onset is medication overuse, a.k.a. rebound headaches.

For the majority of those with CDH, one or more of the above classifications will fit. But for others, CDH may be brought on suddenly by head or neck trauma, flu-like illness, surgery, meningitis, or some other medical illness. I don’t know much about this second set of causes and I don’t really know how they are treated. But I expect that we experience very similar things with the different types of CDH.


8 Responses to “Different Causes of CDH”

  1. Mark Fischer Says:

    While I dont think I quite have chronic headaches, for me it’s pressure changes associated with monsoons here in arizona. Cold fronts come in and the pressure drops rapidly, and like clockwork I will get a nice quality eye-poking headache. Fortunately mine seem to be treatable with over the counter ‘migraine’ medication that combines acetomeniphine, asprin, and caffeine, coupled with some non-stressful activity like watching tv, or sleeping. The drag is when you’re at work at 2pm and one of these hits, I pretty much have to go home, take my drugs and chill out or I’ll have the headache for a good 8 hours. So far I haven’t found anything to prevent them.

  2. Jerry Says:

    Thanks,Kerrie, for starting the daily headache blog. I think it will be very helpful to many. I just wish you could have the success I have had with Amitriptyline. I have a noticeable headache all of the time, but often with a level of around 2 (out of 10). I have been incapacitated only once or twice during the last several years, whereas there was a time when I had to plan things–like going out of town on business trips–on the assumption that I might have a severe one. Thanks again, Jerry

  3. Jennifer Bryan Says:

    I know this is a little late but I happened to stumble upon this website-it’s comforting to know I’m not alone. If I don’t have a daily headache I’ve all too often taken OTC meds to try to prevent it from becoming a full grown migraine. Relpax has been a godsend for me, I’ve had Migraines since I was around 11 and am now 34. Relpax is the first drug to EVER take the pain away, and although I definitely agree it won’t work for everyone-I know after several different meds myself-I never thouoght I would find anything to take the horrible pain away. Unfortunately at this point there is no generic alternatives for many drugs, at $115 for 6 pills (I usually need about 18 a month!!

  4. Kerrie Says:

    Hi, Jennifer. You are definitely not alone! I’m so glad Relpax works for you. The only triptan that’s on the horizon for a generic is Imitrex, but that’s a ways off and the drug doesn’t work for everyone.


  5. Jennifer Says:

    Yes, it would be SO nice if they woould only invent something that would work for everyone!!

  6. steve H Says:

    i have had the same headach for the last 2 years the intensity of it comes and goes. ive tried several meds and nothing seems to work looking for ideas.

  7. DAMON Says:

    I suffered a broken neck injury @ C-1 when i was 18 am 40 now. I did quite well until age 26 arthritis set in. Took Viox until they took it off market, now take Mobic and Nexium because of Mobic effect on stomach. Started getting headaches more frequently age 34 to 39. Managed with Extra Stregnth Tylenol. However, at age 39 November to be exact ruptured disc. between 4 & 5 which caused me to get migraine headaches from Hell! Had to take Relpax 40MG. three times a day and even then had Migraines that got so bad had to go to Emergency Room to get Injections by I.V. to get them under controll. After surgery I am much better but get at least 2 or 3 Migraines a week, have tried other less potent cheaper meds that just don’t work. Relpax and Frova work best. I would like to try Imitrex if it does indead become a generic. Cost me $134.00 for 18 pills a month and have had times I had to fill it before month was out. I sure I fortunate compared to many, I do have descent insurance. Not sure what I would do otherwise. Have tried injections in neck to help cut down on frequency, but I’m not certain that it has helped that much.

  8. Sigrid Says:


    Thanks so much for your great blog. I have a question about TMJ — what is the likelihood of it causing a chronic, incapacitating daily headache? I’ve had TMJ for years but it’s gotten worse lately; however, in order to get a 24 hour a day splint, it would cost me about $2500 and I’m on disability, so I’m not sure that I want to make that investment.

    My headaches started with a car accident 27 years ago. I had a head injury and whiplash and a huge amount of stress from other multiple injuries. Then they morphed into something else. Most of the neurologists say that I have a combination migraine and tension headache BUT in 1986, I went on a **horribly** restrictive diet for Candida and lost all of my headaches for 42 days. So I know there’s a food connection BUT now I have a severe case of hypoglycemia — my blood sugar dropped to 28 mg in the glucose tolerance test within less than 90 minutes — and I’m eating a lot of nuts, cheese, bacon and other potential triggers to keep my sugar fairly stable. When I remove them from my diet, there is literally nothing to eat and my blood sugar dives because I don’t tolerate carbohydrates well. I’m on a very high protein diet with about 60 g of carbs per day.

    My latest neurologist thinks that the headaches are migraine and that I should starve myself to go off the above potentially toxic foods. Haven’t been able to do that yet.

    Which do you think would be a better focus — the TMJ or the migraine food diet? I can’t get my blood sugar stable no matter what because I’m constantly taking stuff for other problems that throws my sugar off (allergy meds, etc.)

    Thanks so much. Really sorry this is so long. Sigrid

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